The Bedlam fate that Mike Gundy has been forecasting for months seems closer to reality.
Last November, the Oklahoma State coach was the first from either university to publicly say he didn’t see the Bedlam football series lasting beyond OU’s move to the Southeastern Conference.
“I don’t think it’s a realistic thing that it’s gonna happen based on the business side of Power Five conference football in the Big 12 or the SEC,” Gundy said a few days before his Cowboys’ 37-33 victory over OU in Stillwater last November. “I could be wrong.”
Doesn’t look like he’s wrong.
Now, the athletic directors of both universities have offered additional thoughts on the demise of Bedlam, as detailed in Tuesday’s report from Brett McMurphy of Action Network.
Logistical issues in scheduling appear to be blocking the game from being played — at least for several years — after OU leaves the Big 12 for the SEC, which will happen no later than the 2025 season.
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“We’re moving on, they’re moving on,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione told The Oklahoman on Tuesday. “Moving on well down the road may open up opportunities to schedule home-and-home in consecutive years, where it doesn’t work in the early years.
“I can only speak for us. We have a willingness and an openness to try and find a way, regardless of when it happens.”
OSU athletic director Chad Weiberg pointed to the same difficulties he and Gundy have been presenting for months.
Both programs have maintained a similar scheduling structure, which aligns with nearly every Power Five program that plays nine conference games. That includes just one nonconference game per season against a Power Five opponent.
That slot in the Cowboys’ future schedules is filled for every season through 2037, with the exception of 2030-31.
So, without breaking contracts, OSU would have to alter its scheduling philosophy to add an 11th game against a Power Five opponent to make room for a home-and-home Bedlam series before the 2038-39 seasons.
Weiberg has taken pride in improving the Power Five element of OSU’s future schedule, adding national powerhouse programs like Alabama and Oregon, plus teams with regional appeal like Arkansas, Colorado and Nebraska.
“That was all intentional and we feel really good about it,” Weiberg said The Oklahoman on Tuesday. “Now, that was all done under the assumption of the Big 12 Conference schedule. So that clearly has changed. That was an opportunity that presented itself to OU and they took it for reasons that are right for them.
“That changed the scheduling equation as it relates to Bedlam. But we’re not in a position to just blow up the schedule we have to try to make Bedlam work. It’s just not feasible at this point to do that.”
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Because of the allure of the Bedlam series to television networks, the value of playing the game could become more significant down the road. Or perhaps with the move to the 12-team playoff, set to arrive no later than 2026, programs might begin to see it as a necessity to add another Power Five opponent to the nonconference schedule.
But under the current structure, adding Bedlam before 2038 would be impossible.
OU is not as tightly scheduled in future years because of the looming move to the SEC. Contracted games against SEC programs Georgia, Alabama, LSU and Tennessee have been wiped out because of the move.
OU’s future scheduling philosophy is likely to remain the same, assuming the SEC moves to a nine-game conference schedule when the Sooners and Texas arrive.
OU has four vacancies for a Power Five opponent between 2027-34, and nothing scheduled beyond 2036.
Prior to 2038, the only year that both schools are without a Power Five nonconference opponent is 2031, so the idea of scheduling a home-and-home Bedlam series seems implausible before the latter part of the next decade.
Bedlam has been played 116 times and every year since 1904, making it one of college football’s most historic rivalries.
This year’s Bedlam game is scheduled for Nov. 19 at Owen Field in Norman, with the potential for two more meetings before the Sooners leave the Big 12.
Columnist Berry Tramel contributed to this report.
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